Aluminum sheet import duties remain a concern for marine industry

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Avalon Pontoons is joining boat manufacturers and the NMMA on Capitol Hill to explain why a potential 60 percent levy on aluminum sheet from China will hurt U.S. marine manufacturers.

Avalon Pontoons is joining boat manufacturers and the NMMA on Capitol Hill to explain why a potential 60 percent levy on aluminum sheet from China will hurt U.S. marine manufacturers.

The marine industry is on Capitol Hill today, making its case that raising tariffs on aluminum sheet imported from China will have “downstream consequences.”

Avalon Pontoons, HydroHoist, Florida Marine Tanks, and SeaArk Boats joined the National Marine Manufacturers Association in meeting with key members of Congress from their districts.

Today they will participate in a briefing for national and regional media, including Bloomberg and the Financial Times before meeting with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The efforts undertaken by these members are significant,” the NMMA wrote in its newsletter, Currents. “Having them in Washington D.C. sharing their point of view on why a high tariff on aluminum sheet will have an impact on their business, employees and community, makes a true impact on our potential for success.”

Sheet aluminum could be facing a duty increase of at least 60 percent because, in an “unprecedented move” last November, the Department of Commerce initiated an anti-dumping and countervailing investigation on common aluminum sheet metal from China.

Typically those investigations are launched after an industry petition or complaint is filed, according to Nicole Vasilaros, vice president of federal and legal affairs for the NMMA.

The NMMA has emphasized that even manufacturers that source aluminum sheet domestically will likely be affected by shortages and price increases.

U.S. aluminum product mills are operating at capacity and can’t meet the demand, leaving manufacturers no choice but to source from foreign nations, according to the NMMA

China is the largest source of foreign imports of this product.

Steeply increasing import duties would impose a “significant price burden” on U.S. marine manufacturers, and could result in a supply shortage and an inability to meet demand, said NMMA senior vice president of government relations John McKnight during testimony he made last month.

“I'm kind of unclear as to why it is that the Commerce Department would actively try to threaten our industry by cutting off the supply of a critical raw material,” especially given its slow recovery from the recession, McKnight said.

Boat and component manufacturers that use aluminum alloy sheet metal are likely to see prices rise after the U.S. International Trade Commission found that imports of the product from China cause harm to American producers, Jeff Grimson, a lawyer at Mowry & Grimson, said during a webinar last month to discuss the case.

The investigation will determine whether China is selling the metals to the United States at low prices because Chinese companies are dumping, benefiting from unfair government subsidies or both, said Grimson, who has 20 years of experience in such cases and has been retained by the NMMA.

The NMMA is urging manufacturers who would be affected to reach out to members of Congress.


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